Institute goal is to transform biology education
Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Three professors in the University of Iowa College of Liberal Arts and Sciences Department of Biology have been honored by the National Academy of Sciences for their work at the 2013 National Academies Northstar Summer Institute on Undergraduate Education in Biology held during July at the University of Minnesota.

Alan R. Kay, professor, and Bridget Lear, assistant professor, were named National Academies Education Fellows in the Life Sciences. Bernd Fritzsch, professor and head of the Department of Biology, was named a National Academies Education Mentor in the Life Sciences.

The Summer Institute was formed as a direct result of a recommendation from a 2003 National Research Council report that called for greater faculty engagement in high-quality undergraduate biology education. Faculty teams from 23 U.S. research universities developed units of teaching activities, which will be implemented in the classroom during the coming year and later evaluated for effectiveness. In addition, participants will implement a mentoring seminar to enhance the ability of graduate students and others to mentor undergraduate students in the laboratory.

“The experience UI faculty had with this training has changed the teaching perspective in the department and facilitated curricular reorganizations, as well as the implementation of TILE (spaces to Transform, Interact, Learn and Engage) teaching,” says Fritzsch.

According to the National Academies Scientific Teaching Alliance: “The goal of the Northstar Summer Institute is to transform biology education at research universities nationwide by improving classroom teaching and attracting diverse students to majors and careers in science.”

The institute was made possible by funding from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, with support from the National Academies of Science and the University of Minnesota College of Biological Sciences.